Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Chair

Sherry Herron

Committee Chair Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 2

Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 3

Kristy Halverson

Committee Member 3 Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 4

Robert Bateman

Committee Member 4 Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 5

David Uttal

Committee Member 5 Department

Center for Science and Math Education


Scientists’ progress in understanding enzyme specificity uncovered a complex natural phenomenon. However, not all of the currently available biology textbooks seem to be up to date on this progress. Students’ understanding of how enzymes work is a core requirement in biochemistry and biology tertiary education. Nevertheless, current pre-college science education does not provide students with enough biochemical background to enable them to understand complex material such as this. To bridge this gap, a multimedia pre-training presentation was prepared to fuel the learner’s prior knowledge with discrete facts necessary to understand the presented concept. This treatment is also known to manage intrinsic cognitive load during the learning process. An interactive instructional enzyme model was also built to motivate students to learn about substrate specificity of enzymes. Upon testing the effect of this combined treatment on 111 college students, desirable learning outcomes were found in terms of cognitive load, motivation, and achievement. The multimedia pre-training group reported significantly less intrinsic cognitive load, higher motivation, and demonstrated higher transfer performance than the control and post-training groups. In this study, a statistical mediation model is also proposed to explain how cognitive load and motivation work in concert to foster learning from multimedia pre-training. This type of research goes beyond simple forms of “what works” to a deeper understanding of “how it works,” thus enabling informed decisions for multimedia instructional design. Multimedia learning plays multiple roles in science education. Therefore, science learners would be some of the first to benefit from improving multimedia instructional design. Accordingly, complex scientific phenomena can be introduced to college students in a motivating, informative, and cognitively efficient learning environment.